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Author Topic: Are human beings fundamentally good or bad?  (Read 1873 times)

Offline Mr.DeMartino

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Are human beings fundamentally good or bad?
« on: December 10, 2018, 09:59:25 AM »
It is said that the question of whether human beings are fundamentally good or bad is one of the most critical questions  that shapes a person's view of the world. Right up with their with the existence of God, the nature and purpose of money, and the role and nature of the family.

Some people believe that human beings are fundamentally good and others that human beings are fundamentally bad. Now, it must be said that on both sides, there are lots of degrees to which people believe this and most would acknowledge that there is capacity for both in people. The issue is which do you believe is the natural tendency of humans. If you had to choose one, even if it's only 51% one way and 49% the other, which would you lean on the side of? Also, for purposes of this poll, good can be interchanged with 'cooperative' or 'kind' or similar terms while 'bad' can be a stand-in for 'evil' or 'selfish' or other such phrasings.

Also, I thought it would be interesting to see if political affiliation had any impact on one's worldview. Hope you take the time to answer and discuss!

Offline Kayos

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Re: Are human beings fundamentally good or bad?
« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2018, 10:06:22 AM »
Humans are bad, and I'm non-political.
I think, laws and punishments, make us a lot better; Humans are wired to be bad, IMO. :p

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Re: Are human beings fundamentally good or bad?
« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2018, 10:07:23 AM »
Csn you objectively define good and bad? Lions kill the offspring of other males, does that mske them bad?  Paraditic wasps lay eggs in other creatures which are then eaten alive, does that make them bad.  Dolphins swim with humans and seem friendly, does that make them good?  Human are simply animals, evolved primates, we created the concepts of good and bad, and scew them to fit our agendas.

Offline AvecPommesFrites

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Re: Are human beings fundamentally good or bad?
« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2018, 10:11:17 AM »
I used to be good then I lived in Korea for 17 years.
Can I refill your eggnog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?

Online Mister Tim

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Re: Are human beings fundamentally good or bad?
« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2018, 10:40:08 AM »
Humans are social/pack animals, and tend to go along with whatever their social group deems appropriate. What one group sees as "good" might be seen as "bad" by another. Outliers within a group who do not stick to social expectations are deemed to be behaving inappropriately.

So I suppose on the one hand, "good" and "bad" are potentially meaningless distinctions, since the concepts can vary wildly from group to group. On the other hand, if we interpret "good" as meaning "adhering to social mores," then I'd say one could reasonably claim that humans are generally "good," for what that's worth.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2018, 11:17:38 AM by Mister Tim »

Offline Mr.DeMartino

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Re: Are human beings fundamentally good or bad?
« Reply #5 on: December 10, 2018, 11:25:25 AM »
Csn you objectively define good and bad? Lions kill the offspring of other males, does that mske them bad?  Paraditic wasps lay eggs in other creatures which are then eaten alive, does that make them bad.  Dolphins swim with humans and seem friendly, does that make them good?  Human are simply animals, evolved primates, we created the concepts of good and bad, and scew them to fit our agendas.
No, I can't. I'm asking you to give your subjective opinion. You can add in evidence, but I'm asking for an overall impression of the species.

Offline orange6ur1

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Re: Are human beings fundamentally good or bad?
« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2018, 11:44:06 AM »
Humans are bad, and I'm non-political.
I think, laws and punishments, make us a lot better; Humans are wired to be bad, IMO. :p
i agree.
of course no one grows up wanting to cause havoc for the most part, but we all have that same potential in my opinion.

Online CO2

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Re: Are human beings fundamentally good or bad?
« Reply #7 on: December 10, 2018, 11:48:07 AM »
Csn you objectively define good and bad? Lions kill the offspring of other males, does that mske them bad?
Literally every single animal is the offspring of a male. What does this mean?
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Online JVPrice

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Re: Are human beings fundamentally good or bad?
« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2018, 11:57:43 AM »
I'm not gonna vote, but I don't think the question can be answered without defining what is "good" and what is "bad". We think killing is wrong simply because we were raised to think that way. And as Sligo said, animals hunt and kill other animals all the time. It doesn't mean that they're "bad".

It's all perspective, in my opinion.
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Online Mister Tim

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Re: Are human beings fundamentally good or bad?
« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2018, 12:03:35 PM »
Csn you objectively define good and bad? Lions kill the offspring of other males, does that mske them bad?
Literally every single animal is the offspring of a male. What does this mean?

Cubs sired by rival lions, presumably.

Offline kyndo

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Re: Are human beings fundamentally good or bad?
« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2018, 12:07:26 PM »
Csn you objectively define good and bad? Lions kill the offspring of other males, does that mske them bad?
Literally every single animal is the offspring of a male. What does this mean?
Actually, no.
   There are several species of New World lizards that reproduce parthenogenically... that is, every member of the species is female. Apparently, these lizards experienced a near extinction event a few million years ago that lost them access to y-chromosomed zygotes. Luckily these females can still reproduce (asexually). Oddly, they still try to mate with one another, despite that there are no males. This has given them the catchy nickname "lesbian lizards".  :laugh:
For example: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Mexico_whiptail

   Anyway, plenty of fish and some amphibians also do this.  :undecided:
« Last Edit: December 10, 2018, 12:22:55 PM by kyndo »

Offline kengreen

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Re: Are human beings fundamentally good or bad?
« Reply #11 on: December 10, 2018, 12:08:16 PM »
I believe what the bible says. We live in a broken fallen world, and human being are selfish sinful filth--myself included. That's what God says, so who am I to argue? Case closed.

Online tylerthegloob

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Re: Are human beings fundamentally good or bad?
« Reply #12 on: December 10, 2018, 12:16:56 PM »
neither?

Offline theman3285

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Re: Are human beings fundamentally good or bad?
« Reply #13 on: December 10, 2018, 12:33:27 PM »
Recommended reading: Beyond Good and Evil, by Nietzsche. Only slaves (or people with slavish tendencies) are preoccupied with questions of morality. It was invented by the lower classes in a desperate bid to justify their weak, impoverished lives. So, qualities like abstinence (read: no one wants to f*** me) and poverty were reframed as positives (denial of the flesh and humility, respectively). Excess and greed were reframed as negatives.

It's a moot point, but it doesn't stop the powerful from indulging themselves on the finer things. Nietzsche talks about an eagle and a lamb. The lamb sees the eagle circling and immediately protests against the 'immoral' prospect of being eaten. The eagle, on the other hand, doesn't give two shits and has himself a feast. The end. 

« Last Edit: December 10, 2018, 01:29:14 PM by theman3285 »

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Re: Are human beings fundamentally good or bad?
« Reply #14 on: December 10, 2018, 12:45:09 PM »
Actually, no.

I knew some smartass would come in here and knockoff the handful of animals that do this, hahahaha.

FINE, the VAST majority of animals have a mom and dad.
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Online Aristocrat

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Re: Are human beings fundamentally good or bad?
« Reply #15 on: December 10, 2018, 12:50:01 PM »
The first interesting thread on waygook in a while.

My short answer, neither, we're completely tabula rasa and while I am interested in politics, I don't ascribe to any belief that biases a stance before hearing the issue.

The question depends on who you're asking. For myself, I agree and disagree with Sligo. Humans are distinct from animals in one critical way, we're able to ignore, channel and resist our instincts (free will), animals can not. Someone who believes that humans are animals would say that ignoring our instincts is a societal construct and that if we were left to fulfill all our desires, without fear of repercussion, we'd be stealing, eating, killing and raping and till kingdom come and civilization would've never grown to the point that it has.

How would one define good or bad? We're not talking about societal norms so I'd prefer to refer to 'bad' as evil. Bad may simply refer to incorrectly suited, thus making it more an adjective suited to refer to norms,  I believe OP is referring to morals.
Good or Evil require there to be a choice, since animals have no choice other than instinct, they fall out of this distinction.
I'd refer to Good behaviour as a spectrum, from the best to least good actions. The best being helping others without expecting any recognition or reward. The least good being helping others, while expecting reward or recognition for your efforts.
Evil would be fulfilling one's own desires with the knowledge that you're harming others.
There's more to say, but I think everyone should get the gist.

Next, does the person you're asking believe in God? A person who does probably understands that each humans is here to decide for themselves, whether they go up or down when they die, based on the choices they made during their life. Essentially, this reality is a test and we're a blank slate at the beginning. An Atheist might argue that since there was no creator, there's no reason to distinguish humans as particularly distinct from animals. There's no afterlife, so there's no evidence for Good or Evil behaviour to be anything but a human construct to ensure that we're able to work and live together in large groups.

So, it's entirely relative to the beliefs of the person asking and the person answering.

As a person who believes in God, the mechanics of evolution and that humans are distinct from animals, we're neither Good nor Evil at birth.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2018, 12:52:00 PM by Aristocrat »

Offline friendofcletus

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Re: Are human beings fundamentally good or bad?
« Reply #16 on: December 10, 2018, 12:52:54 PM »
Fundamentally we are self-interested.

We are social, and that is where our conceptions of 'good' and 'bad' play out. For some reason prioritizing your own needs over the needs of others is seen as 'bad,' while self-sacrifice is 'good'. This the case in Western christian world view at least, and it is probably this way to keep the plebs content.

I find Asian cultures have a less demonizing way of looking at a 'me first' attitude, and that is why we (westerners) bi&^% and moan about ajumas who shove us on the subway and puddles of phlegm we dodge on our walk to work. Other systems of control (the C-word, caste systems etc) were developed over here to keep plebs from taking their self-interests too far. 


 

Offline sh9wntm

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Re: Are human beings fundamentally good or bad?
« Reply #17 on: December 10, 2018, 01:00:16 PM »
I'd say good and bad distinctions are secondary observations to the human condition. At a deeper level we are self-interested, needy, and born in our own state of suffering. Out of that state, we can manifest all sorts of evils or virtues. But I'd say humans generally have the intentions for good, beginning with good feelings for their own self, which allows them the capacity to be good to others. With human experience and guidance, we become less hedonistic and more aware and rational of things like our connection to others, delayed gratification, and actions that bring long term well-being.

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Re: Are human beings fundamentally good or bad?
« Reply #18 on: December 10, 2018, 01:02:19 PM »
Sam Harris lays out good vs bad pretty well with his peaks and valleys of human suffering theory.

There are very obvious ways that increase or decrease human suffering.

Sticking a hot iron poker into someone's eye OBJECTIVELY increases human suffering and there's OBJECTIVELY no benefit to society other than the poker's own pleasure. This plays in to consent and sex vis a vis rape.

There are obvious ways to increase it, too. Don't spit on people. Wash your hands. They sound obvious, but they're intrinsic to the discussion that needs to be had if we're going to sort out what good and bad are. I don't think we can get to the absolute bottom of this, but there are obvious things that we take for granted.
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Offline kyndo

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Re: Are human beings fundamentally good or bad?
« Reply #19 on: December 10, 2018, 01:23:58 PM »
Actually, no.
I knew some smartass would come in here and...

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